Action, not just words

Another delivery of daily bread by Mzweleni ‘Mzee’ Duma. | Supplied

Another delivery of daily bread by Mzweleni ‘Mzee’ Duma. | Supplied

Published Apr 21, 2024


Durban — Mthombeni founder Mzweleni “Mzee” Duma is on a mission to end substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, conflict and sexual harassment, and to promote unity and the importance of education in schools.

Duma, an actor, cinematographer and entrepreneur from Ladysmith, said he had worked with big productions on TV such as Endemol Production, Bomb Production and TKL Films.

He said he had always been very passionate about acting, with everything starting at high school when he became involved in drama.

When he found he was good at it, he decided to pursue it as a career. After school, he studied acting at Duma Ndlovu Actors Academy in 2019 and film and television production at the Sollywood SA Academy in 2021.

He also founded Mthombeni Film Production. He has featured in two movies shot in Johannesburg but he believes being the CEO and founder of Mthombeni Foundation is his real “star turn”.

“I started Mthombeni Foundation because I come from a very poor background. My parents were both unemployed so growing up was not easy, we struggled too much at home. I know how it feels to sleep with an empty stomach. To have nothing.

“Sometimes we survived with food we got from our neighbours. It was very tough, so I decided then that one day I would start an organisation to help others.

“Growing up in a very poor background taught me so many things, that’s why it’s vital to help other people from needy families because I’ve been there.”

Duma said one of the Mthombeni Foundation’s biggest accomplishments to date had been delivering 200 sanitary pads and 200 food packages to Saint Chad’s High School, his former school.

“I have always wanted to do something for my school and the community. Giving back brings joy to my heart, because helping people is part of ubuntu. Helping pupils with school shoes, school bags and stationery – that was the best feeling. I believe in changing lives.

“Poverty taught me lessons I will never forget. I took a decision that a rich family must come from me. I want to build the legacy that will change my home situation, something that will sustain my family and the next generation,” Duma said.

The bookworm said he enjoyed reading when he was not working, but for now he is on a mission to build an empire and help the less fortunate.

“My goal is to be a successful entrepreneur to create more job opportunities. Our unemployment rate is high so South Africa needs more entrepreneurs. Every household must have a breadwinner, someone that will change the situation at home.

“I want to be an inspiration to other people; my peers must see that if you want something, you must go for it. I’m all about changing lives of ordinary people.”

He said the organisation’s daily challenge was a lack of money and resources.

“We need sponsors, donations, corporate partners so we can continue to change lives. We wish to get more support, especially from our black people: the thing is with us Africans, we don’t support each other and we need support,“ he said.

Duma said he would like the government to solve the issues of poverty and unemployment and support small businesses.

Independent on Saturday